I live in Convoy, Co Donegal, where I’ve bred, produced and competed horses since I left school. My late father, Harry, and my mother, Jean, were always interested in horses and kept broodmares. It was nearly all Irish Draught mares on the farm, they had a thoroughbred mare too and then started breeding jumpers. And of course they bought me Carnone Dancing Queen, Pacino Amiro’s dam, so they’re all part of the story.

I started off jumping ponies for Brian Taggart and later on, worked for Andrew Davies, Florian Meyer zu Hartum and Peter Smyth. I set up my Green Hill Farm here at home when I was 19, with a nudge from Peter!

He encouraged me to start my own yard, where I break, produce and breed show jumping horses. I worked at the horses during the day and built stables during the night when I started.

If that love of horses is in you and if you want to work with horses and make a living from them, then that’s in you.

1. Congratulations, another phenomenal year for Pacino Amiro (Pacino - Carnone Dancing Queen, by Amiro M). Tell us about his background?

I actually got Carnone Dancing Queen (Amiro M - NC Miss Clover, by Clover Hill) as a four-year-old to break for Ronan McLaughlin, in Malin, the son of the late breeder, Martin McLaughlin. Not only did the family breed her, but they owned her sire, Amiro M.

She was very sharp and took a long time to break, the sharpest mare I ever had. I’d never, ever forget her, the safest place to be was on her! The McLaughlin’s took her back and I never dreamt to buy her. I was only breaking horses for people at that stage when I came back here to set up my own yard around 2002.

Then Ronan said ‘Do you know anybody who would be interested in the mare?’ So I says, ‘Leave it with me’ and I approached my parents. They bought her for me. She was still sharp, but I don’t mind that, don’t mind the challenge of the quirky ones. A simple one was no good to me!

I competed her first in age classes and then produced her to Grand Prix level. One year I was at Omagh Show, saw Clem McMahon and Pacino and thought that horse has some adjustable canter.

I thought he’d be a good mix with our mare, because she was a super jumper and he had the size, canter and scope.

We lost her first foal, a Pacino filly and her second was Pacino Amiro.

Her third foal was a filly by Beach Ball, she slipped and broke her shoulder as a two-year-old in the yard.

So there’s good times and there’s bad times with horses.

After losing the first foal, when the offer came from Aiden McGrory to buy Pacino Amiro, I sold him. I had loads of horses to break and some good ones to jump, we were busy so I thought I’d be as well off to sell him.

It was all for luck, because if I’d kept him, he wouldn’t be doing what he’s doing.

2. Proudest breeder moments?

There’s so many, he and Bertram Allen are some team. We’ve some of the best riders in the world and the Irish horse person is as much in demand as the Irish horse.

He’s one of them horses that put Donegal on the map, like True Blue and look, those horses only come along every so often. We’re just very grateful that we actually bred one like him.

3. And this year’s highlights?

Again, there’s so many. Top-ranked Irish horse in all the rankings, he did well in Spruce Meadows, Florida, La Coruña, on the Global Champions Tour. Good ones like him just come along once in a lifetime.

4. Pacino Amiro finished 2023 as the top-earning Irish Sport Horse. On the national scene, do you think prize money has improved/held its own?

Well, the Irish Sport Horse studbook classes have good money.

The reality is though for most riders that one good horse has to carry the rest on the lorry that went to the show!

A good day out is when you break even. When you pay your way, you’ve had a good show.

5. How many broodmares do you currently have?

There’s about 12, including Carnone Dancing Queen, but most of them are up around the 18/19-year-old mark now. They’re part of the furniture!

6. As well as Carnone Dancing Queen, any more relatives of Pacino Amiro?

She’s 20 now and had an Echonix colt this year but isn’t in foal. We’ll try again next year with her. I’ve two more colts out of her, one rising five, the other is another Echonix yearling, rising two. I lost Pacino Amiro’s Luidam half-sister foaling this year, but she has a very nice yearling by Gerry Marron’s horse, For Kinmar Hero Z.

The youngsters would all be for sale, you have to keep the wheels turning!

7. Your parents bought your foundation mare Carnone Dancing Queen for you. Breeding sport horses, would you do it all over again?

It’s not easy breeding horses, there’s ups and downs at foaling time. It’s definitely not a glossy picture and the hiccups just stay in your mind for a while. The good times are the good times and the bad times are an education.

That said, if you’d the money to go out and buy the nice three-year-old, well you’d have to try and breed the best, wouldn’t you?

8. Any other famous horse you’d like to have bred?

Lorenzo De Luca’s horse Armitages Boy. He was just like a bouncing ball that horse, with lots of scope.

9. New Year plans in the Scott household?

There’s not too many days off when you have the horses, maybe a half-day off here or there or the odd lie-in! No plans made, we’ll probably stay at home and the best parties are often the unplanned ones. So long as you’ve your health and can enjoy the Christmas and New Year together, that’s the best present of all, isn’t it?

10. 2024 - any New Year resolutions?

No, not really. We’ll just take a breath, get stuck in and then go again.